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Reality is not yet matching rhetoric in moving from “billions to trillions” to finance the SDGs—how can we accelerate sustainable development finance?
To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world must ramp up development financing from billions to trillions of dollars. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the financing needs and made them more complex. We must think beyond aid, to private finance, and unlocking developing countries’ own resources. The roles of financiers and developing country partners in mobilizing and allocating aid needs to change so that the international community can focus not only on country-by-country development, but also on pressing shared problems, such as climate change, global health and international migration. Financing must encourage a resilient and sustainable future.
At the same time that the world is looking to scale up development financing, the development financing system is becoming more complex. There are new donors, like China and India, with different development paradigms. And the emergence of new multilateral development agencies and national development banks add resources to the mix but raise the question of whether new models of international cooperation are needed to maximize the leverage of scarce financing.
Our research focuses on five questions: How can the international financial system produce sufficient funding for recovery and sustainable development? How should it be allocated to help countries rebuild their economies, meet the SDGs and confront global challenges? How can financing most effectively mobilize private capital, safeguard public monies, and keep debt levels sustainable? How can domestic resources be mobilized within developing countries? And how should existing institutions be changed to best cooperate?
After more than a decade of financial sector liberalization, both of domestic markets and of international financial transactions (capital account liberalization), policymakers in many developing countries remain concerned about the effects that large and highly volatile capital flows have on their financial systems. However, in spite of the tremendous costs associated with the resolution of crises and signs of discontent among the population with the outcome of some reforms, to date there is no significant evidence indicating a reversal of the reform process. While one could advance a number of hypotheses explaining this "commitment to reforms," developing countries’ decisions and actions seem to indicate that policymakers perceive capital inflows as a necessary component to achieve growth and development.
The British proposal to create an International Finance Facility in order to 'frontload' $50 billion in aid per year until 2015 has generated a lot of attention and will likely be a major topic at the G8 meeting this July. But the IFF has also been shrouded in confusion and misconceptions. This paper explains the IFF proposal and highlights some of the common misunderstandings surrounding it, including the mechanics of the scheme itself, the potential for a U.S. role, and the expectations of aid which underlie the IFF’s premise. The UK deserves plaudits for elevating global poverty on the international agenda and for seeking ways to better harness the power of private capital markets for development. But the IFF, as currently conceived, is an idea that merits more scrutiny and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Time to put to rest the stale debate over whether the World Bank should disburse grants or loans to the world’s poorest countries. It is critical that the Bank provide more of its funding as grants, but in a more rational manner than has been the case to date. A third Bank window should distribute grants – and grants only – to very poor countries, for example, with incomes below $500 per capita. Shifting to grants-only for the very poorest countries would ensure they never again find themselves with unpayable debt burdens, and would allow them to re-invest resources into their own economies rather than repay the Bank.
Does Foreign Direct Investment Promote Development? gathers together the cutting edge of new research on FDI and host country economic performance and presents the most sophisticated critiques of current and past inquiries.